Sturdy musicianship has elevated rock-folk hybrid Fruition into regional and national festivals while earning them the praise of those impressed by the band’s generous eclecticism and energy-humming richness. The group has toured with the Lil Smokies and charts a career path akin to Missoula’s homegrown progressive bluegrass crew.
“We met the Lil Smokies at a house party in Missoula a few years, and we’ve stayed friends ever since,” said Kellen Asebroek, vocalist, guitarist and pianist of Fruition. “It’s been cool watching them grow into a powerhouse band of beautiful sounds and pristine playing. It’s been epic touring together and we definitely run in the same circles. It’s been inspiring to watch them and grow alongside them, and there are a lot of parallels, touring wise, but we are musically different.
Sense of place and awareness of venue are things that Fruition considers imperative to providing the exclusive musical experience.
“We started going out to Missoula about six years ago,” said Asebroek. “We’ve always played at the Top Hat, and we’ve always felt like we’ve had a connection to Missoula, where we felt immediately welcomed and made fans and friends easily. The changes at the Top Hat are awesome. It has that intimate basement venue feel that allows for emotional exchanges that are palpable, while still holding 400 people. That intimacy results in the beautiful and memorable exchanges on both sides of the stage.”
Fruition is comprised of a new generation of assorted roots musicians: Asebroek and Jay Cobb Anderson (vocals, lead guitar, harmonica); Mimi Naja (vocals, mandolin, electric, acoustic guitar); Jeff Leonard (bass); and Tyler Thompson (drums, banjo).
The band formed ten years ago in Portland and since then has evolved from a roots-infused, string-based entity to an unencumbered rock machine, in due course sharing the stage at noted festivals including Bonnaroo and Telluride Bluegrass.
While Portland bands such as Modest Mouse and the Shins are noticeably indentified with the city’s music scene, Fruition has become one of its most dependable draws. From its grassroots beginnings, the band decided that it would shrewdly follow its own vision; Asebroek said that the group’s fifth and forthcoming album “Watching It All Fall Apart” wholly augments their folk-entrenched resonance and embraces their newly minted rock-and-roll sensibilities.
“We’ve transformed constantly and very organically,” said Asebroek. “We have massively evolved our sound from day one, where we started off as a quartet, no drums, all acoustic, and now as a band that loves rock and roll, funk, soul, and rhythm and blues. The first album was made in the living room, and then a studio, then we added drums, and then we added keys, and now we’ve expanded our palette to incorporate all of our influences, and have gotten to the place we’ve been trying to reach for 10 years.”
Scrambling everything from funk rock to hallucinatory soul to progressive rock, the record sounds like a hodgepodge – and that’s the whole invigorating, exploratory point.
“Every night is another opportunity to explore the music,” said Asebroek. “If you are playing the same stuff each night, you’d better enjoy it, and better be adventurous, and best learn to re-invent the songs every night. It’s important to push yourself in order to win someone new over or to please someone looking forward to you for a long time.”
“Watching It All Fall Apart” conveys tender lyricism and a diverse and expansive sonic spice. Vintage pedals and analog style ground the recording with a throwback feeling and the album’s subtle psychedelics loftily elevate the listener’s frame of mind into the clouds.
“It’s the best thing we’ve ever made,” said Asebroek. “It’s something we’ve been striving toward this whole time we’ve been a band. Maybe earlier we just didn’t have the songs or the recording prowess to do something like this. It’s so real and raw and it sounds like the same energy which we put out live.”
-Written by Brian D’Ambrosio
Tickets and more info on Fruition’s upcoming show at The Top Hat on Jan. 25th can be found HERE